Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman is a spectacular tour de force, and the nascent #DCEU's first critical and popular success story. And yet, the movie ends on a curious note: Contrary to our expectations, #GalGadot's Wonder Woman doesn't go back to Themyscira; she stays in our world, and lives in it for the next century.
All of which raises the tantalizing question: What happened to Wonder Woman over the next hundred years? What did she do in that lost century? Specifically, what did she do in World War II — and would it have changed her conclusions about humanity?
Warning: heavy spoilers for Wonder Woman follow.
Diana Didn't Just Win The 'War To End All Wars'
#WonderWoman is as much a philosophical tale as anything else; everything hangs on her belief about the nature of humanity. Diana begins the story with the naive belief that humanity is inherently good, a belief that's shattered when she thinks she's killed Ares, yet the war goes on. That's when she comes to accept that the human spirit itself consists both of light and of darkness, of good and of evil.
Ares manifests, believing that he can tempt Diana to despair and anger, but she remains resolute in her belief that the light of love can overcome the darkness. She is victorious in the end against the god of war, but not against war itself.
Diana believed she'd be fighting in the "War to End all Wars." She was wrong: in 1939, war would break out once again. By its close, we'd see nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we'd learn of the horrors of the Holocaust.
For Diana, the Second World War would be even more chilling than the First. After all, here's the sickening twist: in the #DCEU, the First World War was influenced by the seductive whispering of Ares. Wonder Woman ends with Ares's death, meaning the Second World War is driven by humanity's own nature.
Would She Intervene Again?
"If I stay, who would I be?" That's one of the most important questions in Wonder Woman. Diana couldn't just stand back and let the world fall to eternal war. No, she had to intervene: What kind of person would she be if she had the power to end the First World War, and yet chose just to stand idly by?
The same question rings out for the Second World War. What kind of person would Diana be if she just stood back and watched? But how would the Second World War affect Diana's beliefs about humanity? If the human race doesn't even need the influence of Ares to launch a war that would kill between 60 and 80 million over a six-year-period, would it shake her faith in us?
Where Is Diana Between Wonder Woman And Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?
We were introduced to Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and she was already a scene-stealer back then. But that film introduced us to a Diana who had withdrawn from the world, who had given up on humanity, and who had stepped back from interfering in human affairs. There's a reason why Bruce Wayne didn't know who she was; there's a reason Lex Luthor was excited at just getting that single photo of Wonder Woman. It's because, sometime between the end of the First World War and Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman stepped back into the shadows.
Contrast that with the close of Wonder Woman, where the hero decides that humanity is worth fighting for. The film closes with Diana concluding that humanity has the potential for greatness, and for goodness. What's more, it's unlikely Diana is able to return to Themyscira; after all, only Steve Trevor even know what shipping route their boat crossed! Wonder Woman ends with the hero unable to leave the world of man, and with a philosophy that would mean she'd step forward to take on the world's challenges.
What changed in the decades between Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman? Something shook Diana's belief in man once again — and, frankly, the Second World War is the most likely culprit. It's possible that General Ludendorff — a mysterious character who may well be a demigod — hints that Ares's agents are still scattered across the world. If that's the case, then they'll continue to work towards World War II, even without Ares's influence. That will add a suitably mythological element to the conflict, making it the ideal setting for a future story.
A Wonder Woman sequel is inevitable, and I fully understand why fans are excited at the idea it may well be set in the present day. But, personally, I would like to see a return to a wartime setting for Wonder Woman — specifically, we need to see how her faith in humanity survives the devastating events of the twentieth century.
Wonder Woman may have closed with a shout of joy and triumph, but we need to see how our hero's light shone even in some of the world's darkest days. Otherwise, her story simply isn't complete.
Do you want the 'Wonder Woman' sequel to be set during the Second World War?
(Poll Image Credit: Warner Bros.)